Gospel Reflections for Life-Promotion


for Multi-purpose

1. These reflections are not written like an essay, but in six precise steps. Choose what you like.

2. They are not meant only for preaching homilies, but for a multi-purpose: for teaching, prayer (either personal or common), reflections and socio-pastoral guidance.

3. They can be used outside the liturgical celebrations also on any other occasions for preaching (by using the same text), private and common prayers, Bible Vigil, Adoration, Prayer Service, Gospel Sharing, conferences, talks, etc.

4. Only the Gospel text prescribed for the Sunday Liturgy in the Catholic Church is used for these reflections, and not the First and Second Readings. The latter are quoted only for reference. Those who want to include them, have to find their own applications.

5. These reflections are written from a pastoral and spiritual perspective, and not from academic or exegetical.

6. The preachers have an option to develop only the focus-statements given in Step 2 on their own into a full-fledged homily. If they want to make their homily shorter, they need not include all the points/thoughts written by the author; instead can select what they like, and (if they want) add their own stories/ anecdotes/ examples.

7. The title, “Gospel Reflections for Life-Promotion” indicates the author’s intention to highlight the life-sustaining or life-saving issues in our world and society in the midst of anti-life forces.

8. Though much of the material presented in these reflections is author's, no claim is made for the originality of all the thoughts and ideas. They are adopted from various authors.

9. Reproduction of these reflections in any form needs prior permission.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

15th Sunday (B)

Fifteenth Sunday of Year B [Mk 6:7-13]
15 July 2018
The Mission of the Twelve
Readings: (1) Amos 7:12-15 (2) Eph 1:3-14
1.  Theme in brief
Our faithfulness to Jesus’ mission
2.  Focus Statement:   
Jesus constantly sends us with a mission to call people for repentance, to fight against evil and to work for total healing of human persons and wants that we fulfil his mission with a spirit of detachment to material possessions and total trust in God’s providence.
3.  Explanation of the text
If we attentively read Mark’s gospel, we come know how Jesus carefully prepares his disciples from the beginning with the intention of sending them out eventually as missionaries about which we hear in today’s gospel text. First of all, he calls the first ones among them at the Sea of Galilee (1:16-20) to be his partners in establishing God’s Kingdom or God’s Rule over human hearts (1:15); then he calls them to “be with him” (2:14); that is, to remain in close companionship with him. His intention is to send them out eventually to proclaim the message of the Kingdom (3:13-14) with the power that flows from their intimacy with him. Now comes the moment when he really begins to send them out with specific instructions about what to take, what not to take, where to stay, what to do and how to respond when they face rejection (6:8-11).
Thus, among his many disciples Jesus chooses the Twelve (6:7) who represent the twelve tribes of (Old) Israel, indicating their role as founders of New Israel, namely, the Church. They will be called "apostles" (6:30), which means those who are “sent out” with a special commission, to represent another person (that is, Jesus) and to accomplish his work. Jesus sends out the twelve two-by-two (6:7) because, according to Jewish law, two are needed for a testimony to be considered valid (Deut 17:6). This perhaps indicates also the community dimension of mission work that requires a team spirit and mutual collaboration as a striking witness to the world.
We are surprised to notice in today’s passage, instead of instructing the apostles what should they preach, Jesus emphasizes more on how to behave during their missionary journey. That shows, for him, their life’s testimony is more important than their words. He instructs them to acquire a spirit of detachment and rely more on God’s power than worldly power that comes from material possessions. He does not allow them to take even basic necessities like bread, bag, money and two tunics. The only things he allows them are a staff, sandals and one tunic (6:8-9). These instructions are not to be taken literally. Their inner sense is this: the apostles must put their trust in God to provide for their needs and also in the hospitality of people to whom they are sent. The requirement for not moving form one house to another (6:10) may be to prevent them from seeking their own physical comfort and not focussing on the primary purpose of their mission. They are not supposed to be distracted by trivial matters. Shaking off the dust from their feet refers to the custom (prevalent among the Jews) of purifying their feet of contamination as they entered Palestine from a Gentile territory (6:11). In simple terms it implies severing of fellowship with somebody. If people refuse to welcome them, Jesus tells them to go somewhere else without forcing their message or service on such people.
At the end, today’s gospel tells us clearly about the purpose (mission) for which the apostles are sent: (1) to proclaim the necessity of repentance or change of heart in order to experience God’s rule over human heart and society; (2) to wage a war against the kingdom of Satan; that is, to fight against evil forces (symbolized by Satan or demons) and to liberate people from their clutches; and (3) to bring holistic healing to those who are sick or are suffering in various ways (6:12-13). Jesus has already made it clear that repentance (that is, a change of heart) is a necessary requirement for experiencing the closeness of God’s loving rule (his Kingdom) in the very first words of his preaching ministry (Mk 1:15). Now the apostles are sent out to preach about this requirement so that God’s rule comes into their hearts. Though nowhere in the four gospels it is mentioned that Jesus himself anointed the sick with oil in his healing ministry, it is clear that the apostles used the ancient method of curing illnesses by applying oil on the sick, since people believed in its curative qualities. Hence, anointing with oil became a medium of restoring health of the sick in the early Church, which is continued till today.
4.  Application to life                     
Jesus willed that his mission on earth should be continued; hence, he chose the Twelve for this purpose and called them “apostles” (3:13). Today’s gospel tells us that each one of us is called not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle. As disciples we are followers of Christ; but as apostles we are not only followers but also evangelizers. Today’s gospel makes us conscious of the fact that by baptism itself we are called to represent Christ and his values as his ambassadors or envoys. Today, he reminds us that following him does not mean just going to church and saying our daily prayers but also being faithful to his mission. We are sent by him with the following commission: (1) to preach repentance, that is, to tell others by our words and deeds that all of us are constantly in need of reform and conversion; (2) to cast our demons, that is, to fight against the evil, sinful, unjust and ungodly ways of the world; and (3) to heal the sick, that is, to alleviate pain, suffering, sorrow and misery from the lives of people around us. Mission work is not the work of just the selected few, but is our baptismal call. Hence, to be a Christian is to be a missionary. 
Today we should realize that the more we stay with Jesus through prayer and participation in the Sunday Liturgy, the more we should become conscious of our mission of being sent out. We should not forget that originally the disciples were called by Jesus to remain with him with the purpose of sending them out for mission work later on (Mk 3:13-14). Everyday and in ordinary circumstances of life Jesus sends us out to preach about the constant need of transformation in one’s personal life and society, to oppose evil and to be concerned about holistic healing. Of course, this list is not exhaustive. We can add more aspects of the mission mentioned in other parts of the gospel, especially service to the poor and the marginalized. Do we feel and think that wherever we are – in church, field, workplace, marketplace, school or home – we are Christ’s envoys or representatives? We are like Christ’s hands to raise those who are fallen; his feet to go in search of the lost sheep; his ears to listen to the woes of the suffering and the lonely; and his tongue to comfort and encourage those who are sad, disappointed, sick, lonely and depressed. There are so many sick people who want somebody to listen to their pain and anxiety; there are old people who want somebody to talk to; and young people waiting for somebody who can show some interest in their struggles and aspirations.
Our first mission is to continually preach that people (including ourselves) are urgently in need of reform and a change in attitude that leads to change in action, of turning away from sinful ways and turning towards God so that God’s rule may come into their minds and hearts. Normally people resist change since it is painful and disturbing. It is natural for people to think that they should be left alone without being disturbed in their present style of life and way of thinking. Repentance does not mean only from grave sins such as adultery and murder. There are so many negative attitudes (to which we are habituated) that result in resentment, bitterness, gossiping, judging harshly, demanding, shouting, arrogance, inconsiderate behaviour and authoritarianism. Secondly, our healing ministry is not confined to physical healing of illnesses alone, but also healing of psychological and emotional disorders. Continuing Jesus’ ministry of bringing holistic health of body, mind and soul is an integral aspect of mission.
The characteristic marks of a missionary are utter simplicity, complete trust in God, and a generosity of serving rather than demanding or expecting too much from others. Jesus wants that we should carry out our mission with maximum freedom and minimum burdens. Our first priority has to be God’s message (God’s Kingdom) and not money, material benefits, personal comforts or honour. As preachers of the gospel we need to have a spirit of detachment from material possessions or ‘comfort culture’ and trust in God’s care or providence rather than our own resources. Though we should be concerned about our normal and decent maintenance, according to Jesus’ instructions, we should not make too much fuss about where to stay, what to wear, what to eat and how much money we shall get. He wants his disciples to go counter to the mentality of the world: greed for possessions and money. Though money is essential for normal functioning, Christ’s instruction not to take money is a warning for us not to be money-minded in all our services. Money is one of the most common areas of conflict even in the noblest of spiritual activities. It has the potentiality of becoming the cause of divisions, fights, pride and envy. Who we are is more important than what we say. The values of God’s Kingdom are caught and not taught; people catch them more from our life’s witness (personal example) than from our teaching about those values.
Originally whatever meaning Christ’s manner of sending his Twelve apostles in pairs (two by two) might have had, today for us it is a pointer towards partnership and collaboration in our missionary activities. Many of the evangelizers or mission workers are lone-rangers and are happy to put up a one-man show. This type of ‘solo-singing’ or ‘solo dancing’ to one’s own tune is not the characteristic of a good missionary. We need to collaborate with others and work in partnership. The talk of so-called participatory leadership in institutions and organizations sounds wonderful in workshops and seminars. When it comes to the practical, most of us are happy to fall back to the old mould in which we were brought up and are so used to. As the world advances, there is a tendency to become more and more individualistic even in our mission approach. We do not like others interfering in our field of activities. When this kind of sterile individualism makes an entry into religious communities, it makes its members live the gospel not in a radical manner, as they supposed to, but in a diluted manner.
Our cry for personal transformation or social change and fight against evil practices of the world are bound to be opposed by others. Faithfulness to our mission involves readiness to be rejected by even our own friends, family and community members. This will be a participation in Jesus’ own rejection as a prophet about which we heard in last Sunday’s gospel. It is true even today as it was in the days of Jesus that there are many people who reject the message of the gospel. Who wants to be converted? It is disturbing. People normally think they are alright with their present way of life and thinking pattern and don’t like to be disturbed. Worst opposition and rejection comes when we combat evil in society. That does not mean we should give up our prophetic mission of denouncing evil. In plain language what Jesus means when he says about shaking off the dust from one’s feet is not to waste our time and resources on those who are totally opposed or non-receptive to our message, but move on. We should remember that we are not sent to always entertain people but to preach repentance which calls for painful decisions.
5.  Response to God's Word
Am I faithful to the mission entrusted to my care by the Lord? How can I fulfil Christ’s mission to the world today? What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the suffering, pain, sorrow and misery of the world and make it a better place to live? As parents, students, employers, employees, doctors, nurses, social workers, priests, religious, etc, what is our specific contribution to personal or social transformation, renewal of families and the Church, combating evil in society and restoring holistic health to those who are physically, mentally and spiritually ill? Which evil I would like to fight or oppose in this week? Can I pick up one area of pain and sorrow where I can render a healing touch? Am I money-minded to the extent of doing every service only for money? Do I trust in money more than God?
6.  A prayer
Send forth your messengers O Lord to proclaim your merciful love. Grant that we may be always conscious and faithful to our baptismal call to be sent out as apostles to continue your mission. Give us the courage to proclaim the constant need of reform and renewal in human society and the Church and their purification from all that is evil. Purify our motive so that we do our mission work with a spirit of detachment from worldly possessions and total trust in you.  Amen.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

14th Sunday (B)

Fourteenth Sunday of Year B [Mk 6:1-6]
08 July 2018
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
Readings: (1) Ez 2:2-5 (2) 2 Cor 12:7-10
1. Theme in brief
Rejection of a prophet
2.  Focus Statement:   
Just as the OT prophets and Jesus (the greatest NT Prophet) were rejected by their own people, so also those who do prophetic mission today are resisted and rejected by their own people because of prejudices, over-familiarity and denouncement of evil by them.
3.  Explanation of the text
Today’s gospel text tells us that Jesus went from Capernaum to his hometown, Nazareth. It was not a private visit to his family – since his disciples were also with him – but was for teaching in the synagogue (6:1-2). The people in Nazareth recognised that he taught with a lot of wisdom and did mighty deeds (or deeds of power, that is, miracles). Thus indirectly they recognized him as the greatest Teacher and a mighty Healer.  But a question arose in their minds: From where did he get all this wisdom and power (6:2)?  Did it come from God or the devil? Of course, they could not believe that his power came from God or he was God’s messenger. Here we notice a striking contrast between Jesus’ astounding success in Capernaum and his total rejection in his own hometown.    
Why did the people of Nazareth reject Jesus? The first reason was their over-familiarity with him and prejudice against him. His human origins and lowly occupation became an obstacle for people of his hometown to believe in him. They were too familiar with his family (mother and cousins), educational and occupational background. Neither his family nor his carpenter’s (actually craftsman’s) occupation had a higher status in his society (6:3); nor did he have any formal education. Disregarding the normal custom of referring to persons under their father’s name, they referred to him as "son of Mary" instead of son of Joseph (6:3). Probably they wanted to hint at his origin as an illegitimate child without a father – a matter of great insult to him and his family. When we read other parts of Mark’s gospel, we find further reasons for their rejection of him. They might have thought he was 'crazy smart.' Mark says his family had gone to restrain him from his activities because people were saying he had "gone out of his mind" (Mk 3:21). The scribes said that he was casting out demons by the power of the ruler of demons called Belzebul (Mk 3:22). They might have been also jealous of him for his exceptional wisdom and power. They might have thought that God could not work in a special way through someone who had that kind of background.
Secondly, from Jesus’ own words we come to know that he was rejected by his own people for his prophetic role, just like the prophets of OT were often rejected. The real identity of Jesus – who he is – is an important issue in Mark’s gospel. Today’s text tells us that he was a prophet who was rejected in his own hometown for these reasons, by his own kin and house (6:4), but was accepted by outsiders. That is why he said that prophets are honoured better outside their hometown, and the circle of their own family or kith and kin (6:4). The OT prophets’ role of announcing God’s word and denouncing the evil ways of the people (including those in power) was disturbing to Israelites, especially its leaders. So also was Jesus’ prophetic role. That is why they might have taken “offence” at him (6:3, literally, were “stumbled” or “scandalized” by him). In other words, his unconventional behaviour must have scandalized them so much that he became a stumbling block in their sight.
Thirdly, the final reason of rejection was their unbelief or lack of faith in him (6:5-6). The fact that he could not do any ‘mighty deeds’ (miracles) there except curing a few sick people (6:5), does not mean that he had no power to do so. He could have done, but did not want to force his grace on those who were unwilling to believe in his divine power or trust him. He was amazed at their lack of faith (6:6) which was quite in contrast to his amazement at the deeper level of faith he found outside his town and family circle. Through him God was inviting the Nazarenes to experience his loving rule (that is, his Kingdom) of peace, liberation, brotherhood and justice. But their prejudice prevented them from accepting his invitation.
4.  Application to life                     
Today’s gospel is an example of prejudice of familiarity. We learn from it how narrow-mindedness, prejudice and over-familiarity can lead us to the rejection of God’s message coming to us from his prophets. The people of Nazareth, who knew Jesus well should have been the first to acclaim him, accept him and follow him. Normally a town or a village celebrates with great joy and pride when one of their members does exceptionally well and brings them such a great honour. But unfortunately, what happened in the case of Jesus was just the opposite. Instead of becoming “owner’s pride and neighbour’s envy,” Jesus became “owner’s envy and neighbour’s pride.” His own people despised him and refused to listen to him, but outsiders accepted and believed in him. His own people evaluated him by external factors: his occupation and family background, and not by what he says or what his stands for. They thought they knew everything about him; who he “really” was. But it was a superficial knowledge purely based on his humble background. They refused to believe that God was at work in him and was establishing his rule over those who responded to him. By rejecting him they rejected God’s Kingdom, that is, his offer of salvation.
We are familiar with this saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I would rather say that over-familiarity breeds a higher degree of contempt. When we do God’s work, speak for him and act on his behalf, we are often rejected by our own family members, friends and relatives, and in our own native place. Those who know us and our background too well often fail to believe, respect and accept us. Just like Jesus, sometimes this over-familiarity can become a stumbling block to our mission. It turns even the most towering and awe-inspiring personalities into very harmless and ordinary creatures in the eyes of prejudiced minds. When people become fixated to this over-familiarity, they refuse to accept and believe in anything good coming from the best leaders and teachers among them. They might scornfully ask: "Who does he think he is?" The worst form of rejection comes when our own family members or close relatives rebuff an offer of help extended to them just to show their displeasure against us. Like the people of Nazareth we erect boundaries to our love-relationships and post a notice: “Insiders are not acceptable.” The question is whether we are willing to transcend these boundaries and accept the truth from whomever it comes.
What happened to Jesus happens to us even today. It is not uncommon to notice some good and committed leaders, preachers and social reformers becoming unacceptable to their own people and unsuccessful among them; but getting acceptance from outsiders or strangers. Familiarity not only breeds contempt but also generates envy. It is not totally unusual to find our worst critics or opponents among our own family members, relatives and neighbours. We too are often critical towards those who are close to us. In family, workplace, office, committees, staff and neighbourhood, over-familiarity often generates prejudices and jealousies towards those who perform better, are better committed and talented. Unfortunately, this weakness is commonly observed even among those who undergo long years of spiritual and religious formation/ training in the Church. When people become so hard-hearted that they do not take the best leaders and teachers in their midst seriously, they become fixated in their Christian life or commitment. There will not be anybody to challenge, admonish, correct and guide them. All will have a free hand to do what they want.
Let us take the second theme of today: a prophet’s rejection. Who were the prophets? Prophets in the OT were messengers of God who spoke on his behalf. They were his spokespersons who proclaimed his word to the contemporary situation. Broadly speaking they had two contrasting roles: (1) announcing God’s word, interpreting his will, predicting the future in terms of the present situation and instilling hope and consolation in people; and (2) denouncing personal and social evil, social injustice and ungodly ways of the world. For this second role of warning people of the danger of evil ways they were called the watchmen of Israel. The main reason for Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth (his hometown) and later on totally on the cross was precisely this prophetic role of denunciation of evil, injustice and hypocrisy. .
All of us are called to be prophets by our baptism and must speak for God even if people refuse to listen. When we were baptized the minister anoints our forehead with the oil of ‘chrism’ to denote our consecration as prophets, priests and kings after the model of Christ. We exercise our prophetic call at various levels: (1) at the personal level when we guide, correct and admonish people; (2) at the level of the Church when we encourage other members, instil hope in them, purify the Church and warn her erring members; (3) at the level of society we do it when we stand for God’s values, oppose social evils, encourage, comfort, warn and admonish its rulers and leaders. Parents, teachers and local leaders also are called to exercise this prophetic role towards their children, students and subjects. Just as the OT prophets and Jesus were rejected by their own people, so also today’s prophets are rejected because their message often disturbs people. Our prophetic role may meet with resistance and opposition by those who refuse to change their ways – often in our own families and neighbourhood. If Jesus’ teaching met with contempt from his own people, why should we expect something different? In spite of facing rejection by our own people, today’s gospel invites us to remain faithful to our mission. To be faithful to our prophetic mission, we must learn to live with and deal with rejection, criticism, opposition and frustration.
There is a tendency in us to give up our good work and prophetic role of counselling, guiding and giving fraternal corrections to others due to discouragement caused by the rejection of our message by those to whom it is addressed. Normally we close our eyes at the faults and wrongdoings of those who are close to us in families and religious communities for fear of reaction from their side and losing our good relationship with them. The best ‘virtue’ we practice is called ‘the culture of silence.’ This fear slackens our commitment to God’s cause. Whether people listen or not, we have to proclaim God’s truth. Sometimes when we consider our own weakness or frailty, we think we are unworthy to correct others.  Some parents think: Who am I to tell children not to do a thing when I myself am doing it. Thus they fail in their God-given mission to proclaim his values to them. In that case, children get license to do the wrong things that parents do not have the guts to forbid. This sort of dilemma should motivate parents and leaders to change themselves first.
Taken in another sense, God continues to call us back to his path through his prophets. Parents, good friends, teachers, spouses, catechists, good leaders, priests and the religious are like prophets who often remind us to walk on God’s ways. They correct us and even warn us. We do not want to listen to them and reject them along with their message. Why? There could be several reasons: (1) We are prejudiced against them because of their profession, family background or past record. (2) We are so proud that we cannot see our faults and close our eyes on our faults/sins, that is, do not want to accept them. (3) We do not want to change, and want to maintain the status quo. (4) We are so greedy and pleasure-loving that we find it difficult to give up those immoral practices/ bad habits which are condemned by prophets like parents, teachers, pastors and other leaders.
Finally, miracles do not happen in the absence of faith. We are living in a Nazareth-like world, in a culture that is disinterested in Jesus’ gospel. Our teaching and preaching may change nothing in those who do not believe. Nobody can be healed if they do not want to. It is up to people to close their doors against Jesus or keep them open so that he can enter. What about us?
5.      Response to God's Word
Are there symptoms of narrow-mindedness, prejudice and jealousy in us that lead us to reject the good in our own people? Does over-familiarity with people close to us lead to their contempt? Are we willing to transcend the limitations of over-familiarity and accept the truth from whomever it comes? Do we remain faithful to our prophetic call and mission against all odds such as opposition, criticism, discouragement? Due to frustration and rejection do we give up this mission? Do we listen to prophets among us? If not, why not?
6.  A prayer
Jesus, you are the most amazing Prophet for all times. Continue to guide, encourage, comfort, warn and instil hope in us. Grant that we may be faithful to our baptismal call to be prophets who announce your word of comfort and denounce evil. Give us the strength to face criticism and rejection of a prophet. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

13th Sundary (B)

Thirteenth Sunday of Year B [Mk 5:21-43]
01 July 2018

Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and Healing of Woman with Haemorrhage
Readings: (1) Wis 1:13-15;2:23-24 (2) 2 Cor 8:7.9.13-15
1.  Theme in brief
Crossing over from death to life
2.   Focus Statement:   
Jesus comes to raise us up from ‘dead situations’ if only we place our total trust in his power to heal, save and restore us to fullness of life.
3.  Explanation of the text
In today’s gospel text, in the middle of his main story about raising of a teenage girl from death to life, Mark sandwiches the story about healing of a chronic condition of haemorrhage suffered by a woman for twelve years (5:25-34). The teenage girl was the daughter of a leader (probably the President) of synagogue, named Jairus (5:22). He was an influential and respected man in the community. When his “little daughter” was at the point of death (5:23), he must have swallowed his pride, prejudices and higher position in society to humbly fall at the feet of Jesus – a layman and a heretic in the eyes of his Jewish society – and beg him repeatedly to heal her (5:22-23). He requests Jesus to go to his house and “lay his hands on her” – a common gesture of healing – so that his daughter may gain health and may live (5:23), indicating Jesus’ role as the Life-giver of hopeless cases.
In the sandwiched story, Mark tells us that the condition of the unnamed woman was becoming worse and worse in spite of consulting several physicians and spending all her earnings on them (5:26). When she heard healing stories about Jesus, she went behind him with faith and hope that even a touch of his cloak would heal her (5:27).  As she did it, she experienced in her body that the flow of blood had stopped (5:30). She doubly suffered not only due to this physical ailment, but also because of ritual impurity rendered by such illness as per the prescriptions of OT (Lev 15:25–27). She decided to touch Jesus’ clothes secretly due to embarrassment of letting her disease known to others and also due to the fear of making Jesus ritually impure by her touch (5:27-28). Expecting a severe rebuke from Jesus for making him ‘unclean’ by her touch she fell at his feet with fear and trembling and told the whole truth (5:33). Jesus said that her faith had healed her, or as per another meaning of the same Greek word, her faith had saved her, that is, brought the gift of salvation/liberation to her (5:34). Thus, we are told that  devout and persistent faith not only brings about physical healing but also spiritual salvation and wholeness.
As Mark continues his main story about the daughter of Jairus (5:35-43), he highlights the mental agony of her father when the news came from his house about her untimely death (5:35), just because of the Lord’s delay in attending to him. These news-givers said the situation was hopeless as his daughter was already dead and it was pointless to trouble the Teacher any further (5:35). Just imagine what would have been the feelings of Jairus! All his hopes of getting a gift of healing from the Divine Healer for his dear daughter were shattered. Jesus told him not to fear but only to believe (5:16). Lack of deep faith is often the cause of fear when people face serious trials and tragedies such as the death of a dear one. Fear can lead to a loss of trust in God. Jesus must have told Jairus not to allow his fear and anxiety to rule over him but go on trusting in him even if the matter had become hopeless.
Mark draws the attention of his readers to the exact age of the girl who was dead, that is, twelve years (5:42), probably to tell them about the tragedy that struck her and her family when she was just crossing over from childhood to womanhood. Her life got ruptured suddenly when it was just beginning to bloom as she was on the threshold of adulthood. And the Divine Life-giver restored her life with his divine touch as he lifted her up with his hand by calling her affectionately, “little girl” and ordering her to “get up” or “rise up” (5:41). Biblical scholars tell us that the same word “to rise up” is used in Greek to refer to Jesus’ resurrection, indicating his role to raise us up from death to life. It was the day of salvation from death for both of them (Jairus and his daughter). At the end Mark notes down the human and compassionate side of Jesus when he requests them to give her something to eat since she was now a living being (5:43).
4.   Application to life                     
Today’s gospel is about the preciousness of life and the tragedy of death. It is about the role of Jesus as the Life-giver who came to deliver us from death and give us life so that we may live it in the fullest sense. Both the miracles found in this gospel signify Jesus’ authority over sickness and victory over death attained by his resurrection. They also tell us that the healing power of Jesus becomes operative to those who put their total trust in him even in such hopeless situations as chronic and incurable illnesses/ calamities as well as death. Let us take lessons from these messages:
1) Jesus is the life-giver for those who are spiritually dead. St. Paul describes spiritual death as being alienated or separated from the life of God (Eph 4:18) or a lack God’s life in us. We should understand that serious sins cause a spiritual death – a separation or alienation from God’s love or the death of divine life in us. Today’s gospel invites us to put our faith and trust in Jesus’ power over life and death and face the daily struggle of putting to death (destroying) our sins and selfishness so that we may live a resurrected life of holiness and grace. It also fills us with the hope of winning a victory over eternal death – merited for us by Christ’s resurrection – through our faith in his promises that he will not allow us to die eternally but raise us up to eternal glory. 
2) Jesus has power to heal and restore fullness of life to those who are either dying or are facing death-like situations. He does this by his touch, if only they put their faith and trust in him. We can observe the forces of death already working in those who do not want to live due to desperation and depression caused by suffering and personal tragedy; those who are so much bitter and spit venom due to deep hurts caused to them; those who cannot see or find love anywhere; and those who are alienated from family/ community/ society due to the feelings of injustice done or ill-treatment given to them. Jesus tells this type of people, “Do not fear, only believe.” We are invited to go on trusting him so that he can give us life in its fullness. Instead of getting overwhelmed by fear, he invites us to trust in God who brings life even in situations that are dead.
In spite of some contrasts in the two miracles of today’s text, look at the similarities or common elements in both the stories: both Jairus and the woman were utterly desperate and in great despair; both had genuine faith in Jesus’ power to heal and restore life; and in both cases the afflicted persons were transformed from death or death-like situation to life. That little girl and the woman are you and I. In a way all of us are confronted with the forces of death. Jesus restores life to us, when we touch him (like the woman) and allow ourselves to be touched by him (as he did to the deceased girl). When we approach him with unwavering trust like Jairus and the woman, Jesus touches us, lifts us up with his hand and says: “Rise up from ‘death’” (or death-like situation).
3) A deep faith has the power to heal and save us from the controlling power/ dominion of fear and desperation. It enables us to discover hope even in hopeless situations. Both Jairus and that woman were facing hopeless situations: the woman's disease had no cure and Jairus' daughter was already dead. When we consider that woman’s many disappointments with the physicians and the poverty it brought her, we wonder how she endured her misery for twelve years. Besides, there was one added burden: according to the Law, she was ceremonially unclean, which greatly restricted both her religious and social life. What a heavy burden she carried! Her faith led her to almost steal a cure from Jesus secretly by touching his clothes without his knowledge. In times of chronic and incurable illnesses what a burden of desperation so many sick persons in our world or homes (including us at times) carry! We can find a Jairus in us when we lose hope at unexpected and tragic events in our life, when even God seems to delay in answering our prayer.
In today’s’ gospel we observe how Jesus instilled hope in Jairus, in spite of the shock of hopeless news he received. Jesus tells us just as he told Jairus not to stop trusting in him even if the matter goes from bad to worse. He also tells us not to allow our fear and desperation at that time to win a victory over us. Instead, make our trust win a victory over fear, anxiety and desperation with the strength of a persistent faith in him like that of the unnamed woman. He tells us to go on believing and trusting in God in spite of contrary results. Faith in the power of Jesus not only heals us but also saves us from the controlling  force of fear and desperation in moments of incurable illness/ untimely death of our dear ones and other calamities.
4) In another sense, Jesus comes to take us by the hand and wake us up from our sleepiness and inactivity. If we really believe that Jesus is Life-giver, he can wake us up from our attitudes of lethargy, coldness, unconcern, indifference, laziness and inactive existence. This is a wonderful lesson for us, especially for the youth, to make use of our energies and capabilities to the fullest extent and not to keep them buried inside of us or selfishly use them only for ourselves. We need to let Jesus catch our hands and lift us up from these shortcomings, just as he had held the hands of the little girl and raised her up, so that we exhibit vitality, enthusiasm and zeal in our life. He tells us to arise and wake up from our indifferent, lethargic and sleepy mentality and be pro-active.
5) We are called to imitate the compassion and humanness as well as humane nature of Jesus. The disciples in their insensitive regard towards the woman’s misery were unwilling to pay any attention to her (5:31) unmindful of what must have been going on in her heart. As per Jewish understanding, blood stood for life. Hence she was gradually losing her very life for the past twelve years. Her life that was draining out of her was restored by the compassion of Jesus. We quite often hurt those who are very close to us by our insensitivity to their feelings and needs, and look at the problems only from our personal point of view disregarding what others feel about it. Quite contrary to this, we notice the attitude of compassion on the part of Jesus who did not mind becoming ceremonially unclean in order to save a suffering woman, and requested the family members of Jairus to give his daughter something to eat.
6) Finally, this passage inspires us to become life-givers to others after the model of Jesus, especially in those situations where we notice a ‘culture of death.’ The growing tendencies of violence, crime, breakdown of families, denial of human rights and dignity, abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, environmental degradation, etc. are life-negating or life-threatening factors in our world and society. In the midst of these anti-life forces which downgrade the preciousness and value of life, our mission is to uphold or promote the dignity of human life. Let us think how we can do it even in a small way.
5.  Response to God's Word
Are we spiritually dead? Does our faith and trust in Jesus’ power over life and death lead us to rise from our sins and selfishness and live a resurrected life of holiness and grace? What are the dying and death-like situations we are facing? Do we rely on the power of faith and total trust in God to overcome our fear and desperation in these moments? With the strength of our faith, do we try to discover hope even in hopeless situations, especially when our miseries turn from bad to worse? In what ways are we sleeping and lethargic? Do we have a strong desire to rise or wake up from them? Do we hurt those who are very close to us by our insensitivity to their feelings and needs? Do we promote a culture of life in the midst of culture of death operative in our world?
6.  A prayer
Jesus, the Giver of life, touch me, lift and raise me up from my spiritual death. I trust in you. Give me the power and grace to overcome my fear of death and anxieties in moments of desperation generated by adversity and calamities. Grant that I may discover hope in you even in hopeless situations. I do believe in your power to heal me as well as save me when I am engulfed by powers of darkness and death. Lift me up and raise me from my fallen condition and insensitivity to human needs and misery. Give me a ray of your compassion so that I may move from unconcern at human misery to compassion. Amen.